Thursday, 2 January 2014

5 top moments from my latest trip to Kenya

My last trip to Kenya was full of surprises. When I booked my last minute ticket, I promised myself that seeing as I was going back for a FIFTH TIME, I would try and do as much as possible that I'd never done before in Kenya.

I wanted to try new things, go to new places, meet new people, learn even more Swahili and try new foods.

As a result, I'm close to saying that I think I enjoyed my two week trip to Mombasa more than I enjoyed my three month experience there earlier this year... I think the attitude you have when you're only there for a few weeks is more intense and appreciative.

Consequently it's hard to narrow my experience down to five top moments but here we go:

1. Going to my first Kenyan wedding:

On arrival in Mombasa, I was invited to a Kenyan wedding ceremony and I was so excited! Saturday rolled around and I realised it was going to be OUTDOORS. In the SUN. At the HOTTEST part of the day. Uh oh - I was going to get back-sweat in my pretty dress. We turned up a little late to the location (pictured) and grabbed a seat in the shade (hurrah!) and chatted among ourselves while the wedding party had their photos taken in another location. So far, not so different from other weddings I've been to in England. 

Then the wedding party arrived and everything changed. Car horns blared, everyone cheered and ran over to the bridal car. The bride emerged from the car and performed a dance with all the women from the wedding party. Then all the women attending the wedding had to trail behind the bride dancing and I got dragged up to dance (and sweat). It seemed I something of a novelty as the only foreigner there... I didn't even know the bride but she welcomed me so warmly, it was great.

It was an amazing afternoon to be a part of and a real highlight of my trip.

2. Karaoke. But better.

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS. You might already know that I'm obsessed with karaoke, to the point where it's not even funny. So when my friend took me to a Go Kart track saying we were going for karaoke, I was skeptical to say the least. Never fear. When I arrived, there was a live band who gave out laminated sheets with songs on them THAT YOU COULD SING WITH THEM WITH THE BAND. Jesus, for me it doesn't get any better. I went three nights in a row and sang my heart out. I'M WITH THE BAND Y'ALL.

3. Sleeping in Shimba National Park

When I finally put the microphone down, I got out of Mombasa central and away from the humid coast. After I camped in the Serengeti once and FREAKED OUT, I told myself I'd never camp in a national park again. So this was a little different.

We stayed in a wooden banda cabin in the middle of the park, the picture above is the view directly outside the bandas - pretty special eh? We all had so much fun sitting around a campfire, listening to music and drinking whiskey right underneath the stars. It was the most special night of my trip for sure.

4. Overhearing a conversation in Swahili and UNDERSTANDING it

Who's a clever girl then?? Now I wouldn't call myself a Swahili speaker as such, I understand one in every 25 words but I really enjoy hearing people speak Swahili, it's such a fascinating language. I was in a bar with one of my friends who was on the phone. I had nothing else to do BUT listen in to the phone conversation (I'm nosey, ok?) and when the call ended, I made an enquiry about the conversation. My friend was like 'Oh shit, you really are starting to learn a lot of Swahili, I can't talk about anything private in Swahili around you anymore!'

Oh yeah. Listen in to people's phone conversations people. You learn stuff!

5. Learning how to make Ugali. Win.

Sukuma Wiki & Ugali- Delicious and Healthy Kenyan Food
Ugali is a curious thing. The white food in the photo above, it's a food staple in Kenya because it's cheap and filling but it's mostly tasteless. I really love it and I ate so much of it on my three month trip there that I'd easily sink in the sea. But when I got home, I thought it'd be easy to try and make myself but I I failed. I ended up with a big white lump with powder in the middle.

This time I knew I wanted to learn how to make ugali with success. I watched a pro and then had a go myself and I did it! My muscles ached from all the stirring needed, but it tasted gooooood. Now I need to try it back in England...

Overall, I wish I'd set myself goals and challenges during my three month trip to Kenya. I don't have any regrets per se, but there's a lot more I could have achieved in that time.


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